Social amplification: The case for PR firms

Making the most of earned media - before, during and after

Rob Bratskeir, 360 Public Relations
Rob Bratskeir, 360 Public Relations

Twitter and the more enthusiast-centric tvtag (formerly GetGlue) are widely considered to be the most effective second-screen platforms for amping up TV shows in real time and driving conversation and engagement among rabid fans and potential newbies, all at once.

Like almost everything that gains traction digitally, especially on mobile devices, the pace at which viewers took this behavior from novelty to habit was stunning. When Comedy Central first grafted a custom hashtag onto the lower right-hand corner of its Donald Trump roast a few years ago, it seemed kind of odd. Now you’d be hard pressed to find a show that doesn’t stick a #younameit on screen at least part-time.    

The great news for PR practitioners: Social amplification is no longer the sole province of scripted entertainment shows, and no longer exclusively a real-time exercise. 

With the right planning, social amplification can take earned media to a whole new place and help answer that age-old measurement question: did that placement actually do anything? The benefits can be realized in deep fan engagement before, during, and after a show’s airing or a print story’s placement, and, under the right circumstances, flow all the way through to e-commerce and bricks and mortar.  Done well, it can spell the difference between one-off hit and a meaningful, measureable outcome.

A team member recently landed a client’s brand on a syndicated talk show for Mother’s Day. That provided an opportunity to connect on-air exposure with online action. While not a paid integration, we needed to convey to our client how the brand’s investment of significant product quantities would translate to tangible impacts. Our team got to "yes" with a weeklong campaign, starting in advance of the show’s airing, which would grow audience, engagement, and retail visibility. 

The campaign heavily leveraged social media to create anticipation and drive tune-in and conversation.  Meanwhile, our client made the most of the opportunity with its key retailers, providing digital templates for sharing about the brand and show on retailers’ social channels. Results played out well, with strong fan growth and engagement for the brand and perhaps most salient, a many-fold increase in traffic to the brand’s page on its leading e-tailer’s website. 

Big picture, social amplification of earned media is a case study for how and why PR firms can, and should, lead in digital strategy and execution. Who, by pedigree and experience, thrives on real-time marketing, and is best equipped able to read, react to, and optimize conversations as they occur?  Similarly, who is more adept at developing effective campaigns often without the luxury of months of planning time?

This is one big jump ball we are poised to pull down.

Rob Bratskeir is EVP and GM of 360 Public Relations’ New York office.

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